Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Henri Fuseli (1741-1825)

As a painter, Fuseli favoured fantastical and supernatural themes which dominated British culture from around 1770-1850. He pitched everything on an ideal scale, believing a certain amount of exaggeration necessary in the higher branches of historical painting. In this theory he was confirmed by the study of Michelangelo's works. As the teacher of Joseph Turner, the similarity between the two artists' style and subject matter is clearly visible.

The top image- The Nightmare 1781 was first exhibited to the public in 1882 and has been an icon of horror ever since. The image depicts a woman apparently deep in slumber, while a beast representative of the devil crouches over her and a ferocious looking horse stares on. The painting draws from folk lore and popular culture, medicine, concepts of the imagination and classical art to create a new kind of highly charged horror image. The commissions for the subsequent two paintings were received from Alderman Boydell, who was then organizing his famous Shakespeare Gallery. Both depicting scenes from A Midsummer Nights Dream, the ethereal, atmospheric and yet oddly sinister feelings that the paintings evoke in me especially draw me to them.


The parting of Hero and Leander

Joseph William Turner (1775-1851)

A work of probably my favourite artist, Turner paints a scene in which the story of Hero and Leander is portrayed. Based upon a Greek Myth, Hero is a priestess of Aphrodite who dwelt in a tower in Sestos, with Leander being a young man living on the opposite side of the shore from her. Leander fell in love with Hero, and would swim across the sea to be with her every night. Hero would light a lamp at the top of her tower to light his way. However one night the sea was particularly rough and the wind blew out the lamp which was guiding Leander, and he was drowned. Hero, stricken with grief cast herself into the sea after him and also died.

Turner is perhaps the best loved of the English Romantic artists (he's definitely my favourite) and he is best known as 'the painter of light' due to his increasing interest in brilliant colours as the main constituent of his paintings and his development in the free flowing quality of his brush strokes. This is another painting I couldn't tear my eyes away from, on loan from the national gallery to the Tate Britain for their exhibition on the Romantics.


Fantasy Based on Goethe's 'Faust' 1834

Theodore Von Holst (1810-1844)

Von Host specialised in depicting literary subjects with emphasis on the macabre and the supernatural. This picture relates to the legend of Faust, as retold by the German romantic playwright Goethe in his great poetic drama published in two parts in 1808 and 1832. Faust is a late medieval scholar with a thirst for ultimate knowledge who enters into a pact with the Devil, thereby pledging his soul.

I stood and looked at this work for ages when I saw it in person at the Tate Britain. It is as haunting as it is beautiful, and as frightening to behold as it is enthralling. A perfect example of a work of the Romantic movement, with its artist taking inspiration from Gothic literature. This is one of my favourite paintings that I've come across.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Lilly Cole by Gillian Wearing

This portrait is of Lilly Cole, who wears a porcelain mask which has been cast from her own face. Disfigured and cracked, the mask is symbolic of the idea of beauty and the pretence that surrounds the concept. Is beauty merely a mask that can be worn one day and removed the next, or attributed and just as easily withdrawn? It is a moving and sinister work, and with the porcelain mask, clothes worn and Lilly Cole's incredible red hair, it hints at the portraits painted by old masters throughout the centuries, and again making a reference to the changing ideology that surrounds the idea of what beauty is or means to behold.


Dreamers, beautiful people lost in reverie

Dreamers (Albert Moore)

I came accross this painting on one of my visits to Birmingham Art Gallery yesterday and in a room filled with beautiful and life size oil paintings this one immediately caught my attention. Albert Moore is renound for his ability to capture 'beautiful people in beautiful situations' and this picture I think typifies this notion. The painting depicts the same model three times over. This lack of physical variety causes the eye to skim the canvas, for no one figure pulls attention from another. Their robes dissolve into the fabric of the background, creating an expansive study of drapery and its physical idiosyncrasies. This apparent monotony actually creates a dream-like quality to the work, enhanced by the consistent color palette Moore employs. This dream like quality I feel is more pronounced and captivating in person, overall the air of a lazy afternoon spent day dreaming is insinuated. While a deeper reading of Moore's work is certainly possible, the painting likely depicts nothing more than "beautiful people in beautiful situations."


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The never ending cycle

I'm going to attempt to break it


you know how the time flies, only yesterday it was the time of our lives

Never mind
I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me", I beg
"I'll remember", you said
"Sometimes it lasts in love
But sometimes it hurts instead."
Sometimes it lasts in love
But sometimes it hurts instead

I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over.

Adele, Someone like you

Someone like you

Saskia as Flora (1635)

Rembrandt (1606-1669)

A portrait of Rembrandt's newly wedded wife, Saskia, posing as Flora, the Roman Goddess of Spring. The artists use of chiaroscuro (strong contrast between light and dark) is particularly effective and gives the illusion of three dimension and realism. This is a very captivating image with symbolic connotations of fertility and re-birth (Goddess of spring, flowers and the positioning of the hand over her stomach). I love Rembrandt's subtle use of colour, shadow and light, he greatly inspired the later impressionist movement of the 19th Century, whose main concern was with the sensual depiction of reality and use of light and colour.

Monday, 15 August 2011

extension from below.

You spun the web.

I was the one caught in the middle.

I'm stuck in the web with no way out

Oh no, I see

A spider web and is tangled up with me,

And I lost my head,

The thought of all the stupid things I've said

Oh no, whats this?

A spider web and it's me in the middle

So I turned to run,

But here am I in my little bubble

Oh no, I never meant to cause you trouble,

I never meant to do you wrong

And I, well if I ever caused you trouble

Oh no, I never meant to do you harm

But they spun a web for me

and here were we, we were caught in the middle.


Cecil Beaton (1904-1980)

The photography of Cecil Beaton is one of the most valuable and informative record of the lives of the High Society in the twenties and thirties. Educated at Camberidge in art and history, he left early without completing his degree. However who would care about failing their degree when less than two years later employment by Vogue would be on the cards, your photography and design work regularly featured. You will know his work, even if you are unaware of it. The 20's and 30's were my favourite era in terms of style and fashion, Cecil Beaton was blessed to be surrounded by such beauty that he was free to capture in abundence.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Imagine having Mario Testino as your wedding photographer...

This woman knows how to do things in style. Shes incredible.